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A beautiful patio with dark outdoor furniture overlooks a crowded beach in the background.

How to Design the Perfect Outdoor Space to Enjoy All Summer Long

It’s summertime, and you want to build the perfect outdoor living space. Where do you start?

While there are many factors to consider, it’s not difficult to create your own backyard escape. You just need to plan carefully to ensure you make the most of your space.

Here are a few handy tips to help you design the perfect outdoor space you can enjoy all summer long!

How Do You Build A Patio?

Here are the general steps to building your own patio:

  • Assess the space you have and research local building bylaws;
  • Decide on the purpose of your patio—personal, social, or both;
  • Choose the location—near the kitchen is ideal for dining and entertaining;
  • Place chairs and tables in the patio area to see what the space will accommodate;
  • Measure the space and draw a plan—you can also use chalk to mark the actual space;
  • Build your patio proportionate to your home;
  • Choose patio materials—concrete, tile, brick, flagstone, or pavers;
  • Consider sealing your patio; and,
  • Add a landscape and furniture.

Furniture Options to Consider

Depending on the size and purpose of your patio, you may opt for chairs, dining furniture, or both dining and outdoor living room furniture.

Patio furniture sets come in various combinations. These include tables and chairs, a coffee table and sofa, end tables, fire tables, reclining furniture, and sling patio furniture.

Make sure your outdoor furniture is durable, weather-resistant, versatile, attractive, and of course, comfortable. There are also outdoor furniture covers available to further protect your furniture from the elements.

Furniture Arrangement

Before you start arranging your outdoor furniture, draw a layout of your furniture arrangement so you will have an idea of what it will look like.

Consider the following patio furniture rules of thumb when designing your layout.

Create a Focal Point

Decide on what the focal point of your patio will be and build the layout and décor from there. The focal point will be the heart of your patio and the main gathering location for you, your family, and guests.

Find a Purpose

Do you want your outdoor living space to be casual or formal? A small, cozy area for two, or a large entertainment area? The purpose of your patio will determine its overall size and furniture arrangement.

Symmetrical furniture arrangements create a formal living space, while asymmetrical arrangements are more laid back.

Avoid Congestion

Make the flow of traffic through your patio easy for you and others. Think about how people will enter and walk through your outdoor living area. Are there any areas that might become crowded?

Aim for a clear path without any obstructions to the entrance and exit. You can achieve this by adding more space to high traffic areas—i.e. 30 to 48 inches of space. You can also arrange your patio furniture in a way that directs guests around the main seating area instead of through it.

Follow Furniture Placement Rules

As with arranging living room furniture, there are rules for placing outdoor furniture.

Place the longest piece of furniture along the longest wall and have it facing the focal point. This is usually a loveseat or a three-seat sofa. Place other chairs close by.

Make It Home

Outdoor living spaces are extensions of our homes. So why not make it feel like home? Side tables, end tables, and ottomans can make your patio comfortable and convenient, just like your indoor living room.

Keep the Outdoor Kitchen Separate

For both design and safety reasons, keep your outdoor kitchen area separate from your dining/living area. Create some form of separation to differentiate the two distinct areas on your patio.

You can also section your patio into smaller areas with different functions and entertainment to make the most of your outdoor space. For example, you could divide your patio into the kitchen area, dining area, living room area, and fire pit area.

Accessorize & Organize

An outdoor living area isn’t complete without lighting and décor. Consider throw pillows, area rugs, plants, and hanging lanterns or lights to add to the atmosphere when the sun goes down. Also, consider using a cushion storage box to keep your cushions dry when not in use.

Common Patio Design Mistakes

Using Indoor Furniture

It might be tempting to use old existing furniture that you have in your den or basement. But indoor furniture will not last outside. And it also doesn’t provide the same appealing look as outdoor furniture.

Using Too Much or Too Little Furniture

Your outdoor living space should feel comfortable and relaxed, not cluttered or empty. If you have a lot of furniture you’re thinking of using, narrow down your choices to a set that matches, complements, and ties the area together.

You don’t want to be bumping into furniture, but you also don’t want to have an empty space with no personality.

No Décor

Like all living spaces, you need décor to add character and life to your outdoor patio. Without décor, you will feel like something is missing. But don’t overdo it either.

As with furniture, use outdoor décor that is waterproof and can withstand the elements for the most part—statues, ornaments, pots, lighting fixtures, and candles. Some décor, like pillows and cushions, will need to be stored when not in use.

No Plants

An outdoor patio needs plants to soften the space, add a pop of colour, and give off sweet scents. Whether you have a garden or a vase with flowers, greenery is a must for your patio.

Bad Furniture Arrangements

Outdoor furniture should be close enough so that you don’t have to shout during a conversation, but spaced far enough for ease of movement. Chairs should be near tables to easily place drinks and plates while sitting.

Colour Mistakes

Common colour mistakes include having too little colour in your patio design, or using the wrong colour combinations.

Most patio furniture comes in neutral tones, so you need bright-coloured accent pieces, like pillows and accessories, to brighten up the space.

Earth tones pair well with rich colours, such as bright orange or royal blue. Primary colours work well together when there is a dominant colour and two others used more sparingly.

Analogous colours also work—these are three colours side-by-side on a colour wheel, such as yellow, yellow-orange, and orange.

You can also use a colour from your garden to influence your accent colours.

Thinking About Privacy & Positioning

Do you want your patio near your home for convenience and ease of access to the kitchen? Or, do you want it hidden in your garden, away from watchful eyes?

How you plan to use your patio and how much privacy you want will determine its position in your backyard. You can also add a trellis or a pergola for added privacy.

Once you’ve designed your perfect patio, sit back, relax, and enjoy your outdoor space. You’ve earned it!